Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
- propaganda / ˌprɒp əˈgæn də / (n) – information or ideas against someone or something, usually the government or an institution
The government tries to take down propaganda published online.
- graffiti / grəˈfi ti / (n) – drawings, paintings, or writings in public places
US streets have colorful graffiti.
- grotesque / groʊˈtɛsk / (adj) – very strange and ugly
Some people feel uncomfortable when looking at grotesque images.
- mirror / ˈmɪr ər / (v) – to demonstrate or illustrate
The painting’s theme mirrors various social issues.
- tolerate / ˈtɒl əˌreɪt / (v) – to allow something to happen
The police should not tolerate young criminals.
Read the text below.
Cuba’s capital Havana gets media attention for its street art propaganda.
Over the years, graffiti has increased in Havana’s public spaces. Now, people can see masked men and grotesque creatures that convey social and political messages painted in the city’s buildings and public walls.
According to a street artist, the image of masked men portrays criminals, while the grotesque creatures without mouths mirror Cuban society’s unwillingness to express opinions because of fear. Recently, a street artist also painted a violent image of US President Trump to express his anger on the president’s attitude toward US-Cuban relations. However, because of this message, the graffiti was immediately painted over.
In the past, street art was not common in Cuba because of the government’s strict policies in public places. Now, many graffiti artists are being tolerated by authorities. Some pieces of graffiti are even government-approved and considered art. However, highly political graffiti can be considered a crime and a few artists have gone to jail for it.
Using street art for propaganda shows that the country is becoming more open to the influence of international culture. In fact, one Cuban artist said that his inspiration was Banksy, a British street artist.
Banksy has created plenty of street arts for propaganda. His works can be seen on walls all over the world with messages of hope and peace. He even said that his style of art has been used to start revolutions and stop wars.
One of his works features a street-fighter who held flowers in his hand. This piece, painted in Jerusalem, was likely inspired by the 2005 riot during a gay parade in the country.
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
• Do you consider graffiti a form of art? Why or why not?
• When does graffiti become unacceptable? Explain.
• Do you think art should promote social causes? Discuss.
• What are other ways to promote social causes?